This chapter attempts to define the normative per capita expenditure on food in Israel; the normative expenditure refers to one that is neither insufficient nor excessive. It also examines the composition of food expenditure by income levels in order to assess the possible consequences of that composition on nutrition. In this manner, the chapter aims to help formulate policies that could alleviate the distress of households that are unable to meet the normative expenditure. The findings indicate that the normative per capita expenditure on food in Israel – not including the costs of “dining out” and alcoholic beverages – is about NIS 600 monthly. Families in the lowest decile need an additional NIS 170 per capita per month to reach this amount, while families in the second lowest decile need about NIS 90 to reach it. Likewise, differences were found in the various foods that were avoided when necessary. As per person income declines, households tend to maintain their expenditures on meat and poultry, bread and baked goods, and vegetable oils at a relatively stable level, but tend to forgo eggs, milk and dairy products, and especially fruit and vegetables, even though they constitute the basis for a healthy Mediterranean diet.
This paper appears as a chapter in the Center’s annual publication, State of the Nation Report 2014, Dan Ben-David (editor).